16 June 2019

South Africa: Selfless, Evergreen Tahir Putting Proteas First

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
(file photo).

Cardiff — Imran Tahir is the oldest player to ever represent the Proteas at a Cricket World Cup and, with 170 scalps to his name, no other South African spinner has taken more ODI wickets.

At 40-years-old and with 103 international caps, Tahir is considered South Africa's best-ever spin bowler in ODIs.

With a CV that speaks for itself, Tahir is experienced and pedigreed, yet he still celebrates every wicket like it is the biggest of his life.

"I don't take things for granted. Every game is very special for me and every game is the last one for me," Tahir said in Cardiff on Saturday after claiming figures of 4/29 to help his side to a comfortable 9-wicket win over Afghanistan.

Tahir has expressed a desire to keep playing T20I cricket for South Africa, but he will retire from ODI cricket at the end of the World Cup.

Watching him perform on Saturday, though, there is no reason to believe that Tahir could not push his ODI career a bit further.

The reason he won't speaks volumes about his passion for South African cricket and a gratitude to give back to the country that gave him a shot at international cricket.

"There are spinners in the country who need opportunities," Tahir said.

"I can stick around for another year or two and I am bowling well, but I just decided to look out for other younger spinners who are going to play for South Africa form longer than I do.

"It will be good for them to go and get more games and that was my thinking."

Before then, Tahir must help South Africa on what is looking an increasingly unlikely journey to the World Cup semi-finals.

Having lost their first three matches of the tournament, the Proteas have just 3 log points from 5 fixtures and they now need other results to go their way if they are to make it to the playoffs while they must also win their remaining 4 pool matches.

Whenever the end does come for the Proteas in England, it will also be Tahir's final goodbye to the format.

"I will be very pleased if I could finish on top. All my life, that's the plan I had. I wanted to be the guy who would go away from the game with respect," he said.

"I would love to play more T20 cricket for South Africa and I'm going to work for that.

"I am working hard in the gym because the standards are very high in this team from a fitness point of view. I want to play as well as I can and obviously that requires fitness.

"I'm playing with youngsters, so I need to. I don't want to look bad and bring the team down. That's not me. I want to play as hard as I can because I'm representing South Africa."

The Proteas are next in action when they take on New Zealand in Birmingham on Wednesday.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...

Source: Sport24

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